Bruins stay quiet on first day of free agency

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Bruins stay quiet on first day of free agency

WILMINGTON, Mass. As expected, it was a comfortably quiet day first day of free agency for the Boston Bruins.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli officially re-signed two of his own players and locked up a Russian prospect for three years, but also said he wasnt moved to strike out on any of the 40-plus players inked to new deals by virtually every other NHL club.

The Bruins GM doesnt anticipate making any moves today, and said that depth signings will be the likely additions to a Bruins team thats loaded for the regular season at nearly every position.

We delved into a couple of things that never really got going anywhere. Im not going to say any positions specifically up front, but they were forwards, said Chiarelli. I dont anticipate anything happening today based on whats happened to this point.

Ive said this prior to going into today. Im not actively looking for anything. If something can improve our team then well look at it. Whether its the secondary market in free agency or the secondary market in trades, well continue to look at that stuff. But were not actively looking.

While there were some longer free-agent deals signed by players like Brandon Prust and P.A. Parenteau to the Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche, respectively, there are still plenty of quality depth forwards on the free agent market. Some of the bigger names like Ray Whitney and Shane Doan wont be an option in Boston, but other potential third-line depth forwards like Jay McClement, Jason Arnott and Daniel Winnik could all be available should the Bruins strike in free agency.

But it appears Chiarelli is ready to move forward with 21-year-old Jordan Caron on the inside track for a starting left wing job with fellow youngsters like Chris Bourque, Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight ready to potentially battle for a spot in training camp. The Bs general manager originally hoped for a Recchi-type veteran to be added to the mix, but that may no longer be in the cards for the Black and Gold.

In past years weve had not too often but weve had one or two players that we actively wanted to add to our team. Wed go after them, and that applied to a guy like Michael Ryder. This year we didnt have a player there that we thought we could get right off the hop.

So that speaks to how I feel about our team. There are a couple of guys that you want to test the waters with, and check in with them. See what they want, see where they are and see what their plans are. Besides that weve had some meetings about some depth guys, but its been relatively quiet.

As the total of open spots dwindle for a large mass of free agents looking for NHL homes, there may be some intriguing possibilities for the Bruins. They could potentially upgrade from the kiddie corps currently earmarked for the third line alongside Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, or they may wait until they can move Tim Thomas' 5 million cap hit toward the end of the summer.

It sounds like the Bruins will be simply content to return with the 19 players that logged minutes and games with last years team, and instead hope for a better result than the first round playoff exit to the Washington Capitals.

Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

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Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

It’s not difficult to see why Austin Czarnik might have been a little overlooked headed into this Bruins training camp when forecasting favorites among the forwards to win a roster spot on the big club. After all he’s only 5-foot-9 and 167-pounds coming off just one very solid season at the AHL level for the Providence Bruins, and there are bigger, stronger forwards candidates that maybe rank a bit higher on the prospect list than him.

But the 23-year-old Czarnik put together an excellent training camp last fall before finishing with 20 goals and 61 points for the P-Bruins last season, and now he’s doing the exact same thing again this time around.

“Yeah, I feel more comfortable. I think we could have been a lot better in a lot of areas. Overall I think everyone is just happy to be back on the ice,” said Czarnik, who along with Frank Vatrano was one of the real starts of camp last season. “You know that type of mentality and you know mistakes are going to happen, and you’ve just got to move forward from it so everyone’s happy to be back.”

The former Miami University star is clearly happy to be back, and it’s showing on the ice with each chance he gets to show his tenacity, withering fore-check and his willingness to crash the net despite his smallish stature.

Czarnik was one of the most dangerous forwards on the ice for the Black and Gold in their preseason opener, and collected a key assist on Boston’s first goal of the game when he pushed a puck through the neutral zone before setting up on odd man rush for Jimmy Hayes and Jake DeBrusk.

This time around Czarnik scored the game’s only goal on a nifty rush during four-on-four play through the offensive zone by Ryan Spooner, who drew in the defense and dished to Czarnik for a wide open tap-in chance.

So it’s a couple of big plays in each of the first two preseason games that led to goals, and a genuinely excellent level of play throughout both contests. It’s something the Bruins coaching staff has taken note of along with his skating speed and hardnosed mentality, and now they have to figure if it fits in with their other NHL pieces.

“We were just talking about it. Everybody has that same feeling. He’s playing well. He moves well. He’s on the puck. He competes, and that’s the thing you’re looking for really,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “Like right now, we know there’s going to be mistakes made by a lot of our players, especially the younger ones.

“We’re looking to see who’s got that competitive, you know, that competitive fire. [We’re looking for] who’s going to go out there and who can compete at a high level. I know he’s not big in stature, but he plays bigger than he is. He’s had two pretty good games so far.”

Czarnik had a couple of good games early in B’s camp last year before flat-lining a bit at the end when the NHL jobs were seriously on the line, and the 23-year-old wants that story to change endings this time around. It remains to be seen where he’s going to fit as yet another center among Boston’s group of training camp players this month, but Czarnik might just force the Bruins to make a tough decision if he keeps playing at his current high level.   

Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

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Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

GOLD STAR: Take your pick: Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Luke Glendening torched the Bruins with veteran savvy and toughness against a very young defensemen unit trying to survive in the second preseason game. Ott and Glendening each scored a goal and finished with three points, and Miller finished with a goal and two points while all three forwards had a plus-3 rating for the night. All of their goals came off winning battles, crashing the net and taking advantage of defensive miscues. The goals provided a good lesson to the young kids that have a ways to go before they’re NHL ready at this point in their careers. It certainly must have been a kick to the stones to many Bruins fans when “Brave” Steve Ott was named the No. 1 Star of the game after it was all over, but that was certainly appropriate.

BLACK EYE: Adam McQuaid was the most experienced defensemen out on the ice for the Bruins on Wednesday night, and it was a rough night for him with so many young guys around him on the back end. McQuaid finished a minus-2 in 17:41 with a couple of hits and got a little better as the game was going on, but was on ice for two of the first three goals allowed to Detroit in a really lackluster middle section of the game. In general, it was about more than just one player, though. There were blown assignments in the D-zone and some really noticeable lost battles leading to scoring chances for a Red Wings group that aggressively took it to the Bruins. This is a game that will leave the Bruins coaches with plenty of video material moving forward.

TURNING POINT: The real slippage came early in the game when the Bruins failed to score on some good power play chances for Peter Mueller and Matt Beleskey, and then allowed two goals within 19 seconds of each other in the first period. The first goal was a PP one for the Red Wings with Ryan Spooner whistled for a face-off infraction, and the second was simply the Bruins falling asleep at the wheel just seconds after the first goal was scored. Lost battles led to a bang-bang play in front with Steve Ott scoring as Malcolm Subban was turned around looking for the puck, and the B’s were reeling headed into the first intermission. Only a Subban shoulder save kept it from being 3-0 at the end of the first, and that was something the B’s never seemed to rebound from.

HONORABLE MENTION: Austin Czarnik scored the B’s only goal off a nice play from Ryan Spooner driving toward the net, and continues to put together another strong training camp after doing the same thing last season. Czarnik finished with the goal, three shots on net and six shot attempts in 17:38 of ice time, and battled back from a rough start to go 6-for-12 in the face-off circle while centering an extremely young line with Sean Kuraly and Zach Senyshyn. While Czarnik might not have been a big name when talking about an open roster spot with the Bruins a couple of weeks ago, he’s pushed toward making himself a part the conversation with his heart-filled, high effort energetic performances for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-for-16 was the final tally for Ryan Spooner in the face-off circle as he continues to be a work-in-progress on the draw.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Maybe I was a little bit shocked first going out there. The speed of the game is noticeably faster, but I think as time went on I got more comfortable out there. Hopefully I can build off that moving forward.” – Bruins rookie D-man Matt Grzelcyk on his first NHL preseason game being a bit of a big wakeup call.